Eric Musgrave

Since 1980, menswear & fashion retail commentator, opinionated thought-leader,
event host & all-round top bloke. Contact me to discuss working together.

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Check out this winter favourite

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Season’s Greetings to one and all.

The weather down my way in rural east Kent has been pretty vile over the holidays, so I have been keeping well wrapped up.

This red-and-black check is a favourite pattern of mine, seen here in a lovely 75% lambswool : 25%angora Made-in-Scotland scarf from Begg Scotland.

If this is not enough to keep warm, it’s good to throw on this brushed cotton shirt from the US outdoor brand Woolrich (which, bizarrely and slightly disappointingly, was Made in India).

Obviously, to go outside, I need a coat, so I reach for my Made-in-the-USA down-filled Arctic Parka from Woolrich.

To protect my head, what better solution than this Made-in-the-USA New York Hat Co hunter’s cap?

All very cosy, but not quite complete. If anyone knows a brand that makes red-and-black checked winter trousers and similar socks, please drop me an email.

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At the Holland & Holland gun factory

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Until last week I knew nothing about firearms. After a visit to the Holland & Holland factory in north-west London, I now know it takes the most amazing set of skills to create one of its rifles or shotguns.

They are quite beautiful creations, in which every single one of the 80 to 90 pieces is made individually. The workmanship in these instruments is extraordinary. This is precision engineering at a superlative level.

The stock or butt is made from seasoned Turkish walnut, which has the right moisture content and physical structure to make a comfortable, reliable piece to go against the shooter’s shoulder.

Some 42 people work at the factory, which the company moved into in 1885. Part of the Chanel group since 1989, Holland & Holland produces only about 80 weapons each year, which includes ready-made pieces for its Gun Rooms and bespoke items made to clients’s specifications. Having seen the process, I understand why the output is so small. Quality is more important here than quantity. No wonder English guns are regarded as the best in the world. www.hollandandholland.com

My outfit on the day was my vintage Aquascutum wool coat, Johnstons of Elgin cashmere rollneck, Tootal scarf and Derby tweed tailor-made trousers.

I visited the factory on behalf of www.billionaire.com. Read my full report here:

http://www.billionaire.com/articles/223/holland-holland-your-best-shot

 

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The Merchant Fox in Mayfair

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Ding dong merrily on high! The Merchant Fox, that fine purveyor of luxurious British products, has opened a pop-up shop for Christmas (and hopefully into the New Year) at 77 Duke Street, Mayfair. www.themerchantfox.co.uk

The site is related to the West Country mill, Fox Brothers, which has been weaving fine cloth, especially flannel, in Wellington, Somerset since 1772. www.foxflannel.com I was delighted to find Fox MD Douglas Cordeaux among the sales staff when I dropped in, but I can’t guarantee he will be there full-time.

The main investor in both businesses is Deborah Meaden of Dragons’ Den fame, whose money saved Fox Flannel from extinction. The Merchant Fox shop shows just how far the business has come in a few years. It is a great example of British expertise in producing luxury goods that make traditional quality relevant for a contemporary audience.

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The New Craftsmen: worth your attention

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

The amazing work of a group of young artisans collectively known as The New Craftsmen can be seen at a pop-up shop at 5 Carlos Place, Mayfair, London W1K 3AP until December 15. I strongly recommend a visit to anyone who is interested in very fine hand crafts. The chairman and co-founder of the group is Mark Henderson, who is also chairman of Gieves & Hawkes, former chairman of Savile Row Bespoke and a well-known figure in Walpole, the British luxury goods association. His co-founders include Natalie Melton and Catherine Lock, who showed me round the show, which occupies two floors of a smart Mayfair townhouse right opposite the Connaught Hotel. www.thenewcraftsmen.com

I was immediately attracted, of course, to the clothing and footwear, including superb hand-knitted gansey sweaters from a Scottish collective called Highland Loop

and the astonishing “waulking jacket” by stitcher, artist and calligrapher Ros Wyatt, who cut up maps to make the shapes of ferns and bracken,

plus the brilliant boots and smart dog collar from CarréDucker.

Also catching my eye was the beautiful natural wood work by Nic Webb and the fine silver objects created by Ndidi Ekubia. There are at least another 10 artist-craftsmen exhibiting at the shop. None of these products are cheap, but they are superb and well worthy of your attention.

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E. Marinella brings Napoli to London

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

In 1914 Eugenio Marinella opened a small store at Riviera di Chiaia 287, Naples, specialising in the English accessories and perfumes that were in vogue at the time. Nearly 100 years later, the store is still there and E. Marinella continues to source most of its silk beautiful fabrics from England for its exquisite ties, scarves, pocket handkerchiefs… Eugenio’s son Luigi succeeded him and today le padrone is Eugenio’s grandson Maurizio. “We are very classic and very conservative,” he told me in his handsome London boutique at 54 Maddox Street, Mayfair. Sounds the perfect strategy to me, Maurizio.

I decided that an international accessories summit was in order so I introduced Sgr Marinella to my chum Simon Carter. I’m glad to see that one of us was wearing a tie. For more on the lovely things that E. Marinella produces, see www.marinellanapoli.it For Simon’s output, see www.simoncarter.net

My coat is a limited-edition down-filled wool parka with coyote fur trim made for the 175th anniversary of Woolrich, the denim jacket is from Blood&Glitter, the cotton-wool shirt is Viyella and the silk scarf round my neck is by Chris Ingham, late of Favourbrook.

 

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At Zara’s new flagship

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

 Right across from Selfridges in London’s Oxford Street Zara has opened its new flagship, which it calls, rather grandly,Park House. And very impressive it is too. Glossy, airy, bright and a confident statement from the Inditex Group. This is Inditex’s 94th store in the UK and it still has a number of fascias that it hasn’t brought over from Spain. At the launch party I scarpered before the crowds (and Kate Moss) turned up, but there was just time to say hello to my ex-Emap colleague, Tim Danaher, the former editor of Retail Week, who now is a spinning supremo at Brunswick. (That’s the PR company, not the record label that used to release Jackie Wilson soul songs).

My outfit comprised Douglas jacket in Teviotex tweed, Viyella shirt, vintage tartan tie, Wolsey Fair Isle-style slipover, Gurteen moleskins and suede boots by Tricker’s. All very cosy on a chilly evening.

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Talking Farrell with Robbie Williams

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

That nice young man Robbie Williams had the good luck to be interviewed by me at the charming Durrants Hotel in Marylebone. We were talking about Farrell, the menswear line Rob started a few years ago, inspired by the memory of his maternal grandfather and mentor, Jack Farrell.

Farrell’s designer Ben Dickens was also on hand to explain the delights of next autumn’s collection to a group of selected menswear buyers.

It was an excellent opportunity for me to meet up with some old menswear friends like Kieran McBride from Fenwick in Newcastle and York, Charlie Peel and Julie Haywood from Williams & Griffine in Colchester, and David and Norma Light plus Mike Ashcroft from Tessuti in Chester. Farrell MD David Empson and his wife Suzie, who looks after marketing for the brand, were our genial hosts. Everyone seemed suitably impressed with the line, which is offering something not readily available elsewhere in the menswear sector at sensible prices. www.farrell.com

The chilly weather gave me the ideal excuse to give one of my new Viyella shirts (in a nice 80:20 cotton:wool blend) a run out, together with a favourite old tartan wool tie by Strathmore of Forfar.

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